27 September, 2015
Three Things {Grizzly Bear, Loud and Quiet, and a Picture Book}

Three Things {Grizzly Bear, Loud and Quiet, and a Picture Book}

Today, I’m returning to my "Three Things" linky party, in which I blog about three things that worked for my and my students this week. Thanks to Whimsy Workshop TeachingKimberly Geswein fonts, and Jax and Jake for the cute clip art and fonts!

Three things that worked in my music classroom: A singing game and two picture books!

#1: Grizzly Bear
My Kindergarteners have been preparing loud and quiet. One of my all-time favorite songs for this is "Grizzly Bear," which you can see below:

Grizzly Bear: A FUN singing game for loud and quiet! Blog post includes other activities for your music lessons!

The kids love the song, as it starts very quietly and gets louder and louder, until they shout, "Roar" at the end! For the game, I have students walk in a circle, counter-clockwise, until they repeat the first phrase. Then on "Please be very quiet," students stay still and put a finger to their lips. For "If you wake him, if you shake him..." students step louder and louder to the beat until they roar at the end! (I have them put their hands up like they are claws when they roar!) One child pretends to be a sleeping bear in the middle as all of the movement is going on, and then on "Roar," that kid stands up and tries to tag one student. I have one spot that is the safe zone (my white board).

The kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this game! And it's a very fun way to teach loud and quiet!

#2: Loud and Quiet lesson
Speaking of loud and quiet, I also presented loud and quiet this week to my Kindergartners. I love my presentation lesson, as it has so many great songs (like "Lucy Locket," "Grizzly Bear," and "Engine Engine") and it includes one of my favorite books, "Thump Thump Rat-a-tat-tat." It's also my first presentation lesson of the year for Kindergarten, which is exciting! You can find the lesson in the loud/quiet set below as well as a slightly different loud/quiet lesson in the Kindergarten lesson set below.


#3: "America the Beautiful" book

My fifth graders are preparing for their program, which will be based off the book "Wangari's Trees of Peace," which you can check out below.

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A beautiful picture book that can be used for a musical program. Includes link to a post with lots of ideas for your program!

Here is a blog post about the program, including which songs and dances I used. Many of the songs are Kenyan or are from other countries in Africa, but one of the songs is "America the Beautiful" (as Wangari leaves Kenya to attend school in America.) I used the picture book below to introduce the song to students:

America the Beautiful: A picture book for the song. Blog post includes other activities for your music lessons!

Of course, students have heard the song before, but I love using this picture book to teach the song, to discuss what the lyrics mean, and to discuss patriotic music in general. (If you're interested in reading another post about patriotic music, check out this great post by Tracy King from Mrs. King Rocks.)

It's sometimes difficult to find picture books that work with older grades, so this is a great one! After I sang the song and we discussed, I had students sing each phrase of the first verse with me.

Make sure to check out the things that worked for other music bloggers below! Happy teaching!
24 September, 2015
Technology tips for the classroom

Technology tips for the classroom

Have you ever been teaching and a piece of technology that you were relying on for your lesson completely failed you? This has probably happened to all of us at some point, so today I'll write about preventing these technology troubles, leaving you with a smooth, engaging lesson!

Technology tips for the classroom: Strategies to help maximize time and learning with technology!

#1: Think ahead

When I'm teaching, I often have to think ahead to the next activity in the lesson or even the activity after that. I have an agenda that has all of my songs, activities, etc. on it as well as my "I can" statements, and my SMART Notebook files, Powerpoints, PDF's, etc. that I need are linked in the agenda. As I'm teaching, I try to think ahead to what's coming next so I can open the file ahead of time, especially if it's a SMART notebook file, as those--at least on my computer--can take a long time to open up! I've had it happen so often that a SMART notebook file takes a few minutes to load, and a few minutes in an elementary classroom is a long time! I try to open the file when the kids are doing a singing game, working with partners, playing instruments, or otherwise engaged, so they don't have to sit and wait.

When I'm showing YouTube videos, I also have to think ahead, as in my district, I have to sign into a filter in order to show the video. The filter in my district only lasts for one hour before I have to sign in again, so if I know a video is coming up in the lesson, I make sure to sign into the filter when students are doing something else. That way, they're not sitting around waiting for the video to be up and running!

#2: Have a back-up plan

I don't necessarily have a back-up plan for every activity in my lesson, but I can improvise if I need to. For example, the other day I was trying to have first graders write the rhythm to "Bee Bee" on the SMART board, but the SMART notebook file never opened up for me (instead, the program crashed.) Once I realized it was taking too long, I drew bees on the board myself with dry erase marker and had students figure out the rhythm.

You might not always be able to think of a back-up activity ahead of time, but in the moment, if you need to write on the dry erase board instead of the SMART board, go for it! The lack of interactivity might not be as cool as what you've planned, but it's better than waiting around for the technology to work.

#3: Do filler activities

While I'm waiting for a file to open, I might have students echo rhythm patterns, echo melodic patterns, sing the song one more time, turn to a partner and tell them what they could improve next time we play/sing the song, etc. These are all activities that can improve students' musicianship, and they help to fill the time and keep students engaged while you are waiting for technology to work!

#4: The freeze button is your friend!

You may have had the experience that you are about to watch a YouTube video, and a commercial that is perhaps a bit inappropriate or non-kid-friendly comes on the screen...and you very quickly pause or turn off the video to avoid the kids from seeing anything (if they haven't already!) I now use the freeze button to alleviate this problem. Before I even hit play on the video, I hit freeze on the projector remote, and I make sure that it will actually play the video. Every few videos, it seems to show a commercial, and with some videos, it will show a commercial regardless, so you have to be careful. I freeze the projector, put the volume down on my speakers, and check to make sure the video will play with no commercial before showing the students. They don't know any different (although they may remind you that the freeze button is on), and then no worries about commercials!

You might look into using Safeshare, which is a great website that takes out YouTube commercials. I've heard there have been some problems lately with the site but I believe those problems have been solved. You will also have to check at your school to make sure you are allowed to go to the site. My district blocked the site, and I can't even sign into the site with a filter, so it will depend on your district.

#5: Technology is not always the way

As much as I love technology, sometimes kids just need to put their hands on something--to touch something, to feel it, to manipulate it. If we never have students hold things in their hand, they are at a disadvantage. I've been learning more about sensory processing disorder lately, as my three-year-old was just diagnosed with it, and I've learned that in order for some kids to learn best, they need to move, to spin, to hold, to touch. If we only put iPads and SMART notebook files in front of our students, they may not learn as well as they could. Make sure you have a healthy balance of actual objects your kids can feel with activities that utilize technology.

Looking for more technology ideas? Check out my "Techie stuff" Pinterest board!

I hope these strategies help you as you integrate technology into your lessons! What are your tips?

13 September, 2015
Three Things {Orff Rules, Plainsies Clapsies, and a Recorder Freebie}

Three Things {Orff Rules, Plainsies Clapsies, and a Recorder Freebie}

Today, I’m writing again with my “Three Things” linky party, in which I blog about three things that worked for my and my students this week. Thanks to Whimsy Workshop TeachingKimberly Geswein fonts, and Jax and Jake for the cute clip art and fonts!

Three things that worked in my music classroom: A singing game, Orff rules, and a recorder freebie!

#1: Reviewing Orff instrument rules before playing instruments
My first graders have been practicing steady beat and rhythm, so I had them sing “Engine Engine” (all on sol-mi) while playing the beat on the Orff instruments (a bourdon, on C and G.) I think the reason this was more successful for my students than in years past is that I took my time to explain how to play the instruments correctly before having students go to the instruments. I used Cori Bloom’s Orff instrument rules in the first lesson, which you can see below (click on the pic to buy them in her store):

Three things that worked in my music classroom: A singing game, Orff rules, and a recorder freebie!

After I went over the rules, I only had six students come to instruments, and showed the entire class how playing the beat should look. I promised the students who didn’t get to play that they would play in the next class. In the next class (which was this week), we reviewed the rules again, and then everyone got a chance to play…and I really do think it was so much better than it has been in years past! Reviewing the rules and seeing the model of just a few kids playing really seemed to do the trick! Even when students can keep a steady beat well on their bodies, they sometimes falter a bit when they get to instruments, so I was happy with how well they did!

#2: Stony Creek {A Recorder Freebie}
My fourth graders have been practicing B and A on recorder. Of course, they love playing the recorder, but they love it even more when they can play music with accompaniment! I created this freebie last year, and my kids loved playing it this week! (Click on the picture to download it.)

Stony Creek: A recorder freebie for BAG! Check out other elementary music ideas in this post!

First we spoke the rhythm, then we said the letter names, then we said and fingered the notes, then we played. I have to say, they were pretty excited when they found out I composed it…but it wasn’t too hard to do on GarageBand!

#3: Plainsies Clapsies

My second graders have been practicing la, and they LOVE the new song they’ve learned, “Plainsies Clapsies.” (Click the title to view it on the Holy Names Kodaly website…which is an amazing resource that you should check out if you haven’t yet!) Students get to use beanbags to do all the motions, which is both challenging AND fun! It also works well to prepare 2-beat meter, as they are tossing on the strong beat and catching on the weak beat.

Make sure to read the things that have worked for other music teachers by clicking below! Happy teaching!

06 September, 2015
Three Things {Instrument activity, Einstein, and I let her go-go}

Three Things {Instrument activity, Einstein, and I let her go-go}

Hi everyone! I'm excited to continue my new linky party today, called "Three things." I'm going to blog about three things that worked really well for my students this past week...things that were magical, that they beg to do again, etc. Thanks to Whimsy Workshop TeachingKimberly Geswein fonts, and Jax and Jake for the cute clip art and fonts!

Three things that worked in my music classroom: A song, a book, and a singing game!

#1: Kindergarten instrument activity
Two weeks ago, I read the book "Three Billy Goats Gruff" to my Kindergarteners, and had students use their squeaky/high speaking voice to say "trip trap, trip trap" for the little billy goat gruff, their speaking voice for the middle billy goat gruff, and their grumbly/ low speaking voice for the great big billy goat gruff and for the troll. This was a great way to explore their voices while reading a well known story! Here is the book I used, but there are many different versions out there!

Three Billy Goats Gruff: Great picture book for integrating instruments into a music lesson! Blog post includes other great ideas for your music classroom!

Then, this past week, I reviewed the story with the students, then had some students play the gathering drum for "Oh no, you're not!", some students play the glockenspiel (on whatever notes they wanted) for the little billy goat gruff's "trip trap, trip trap," some students play the alto xylophone for the middle billy goat gruff's "trip trap, trip trap," and the rest of the students play the bass metallophone and bass xylophone for the great big billy goat gruff's "trip trap, trip trap." The kids LOVED playing the instruments, and it was a great way to introduce them to instruments and practice story structure--as they could only play for their character!

#2: "Einstein" by I am Bullyproof Music
This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Lessia Bonn from I am Bullyproof Music at the TpT conference in Las Vegas. I then began listening to a lot of her music and love that her music not only is beautifully written, but it has a great message. My fourth graders listened to "Einstein" this week, and I loved how they were immediately grooving to it, and that they could articulate the message behind the song after only one listening! My goal is to have them create a video in small groups to the song, using iMovie...more to come on that! Here is a video that Lessia created for "Einstein."

Most of the songs I do with the students are folk songs, but I've been searching for a way to bridge the gap between the music I do with them and the music they hear every day. Pop music can be tricky, because it's so often inappropriate and it sometimes goes out of "style," so Lessia's songs are a great bridge between pop and folk, allowing students to transfer their learning!
To purchase the mp3 for "Einstein," click here, and to purchase materials for teaching Einstein as well as the mp3, click the picture below:

#3: I let her go-go
After my second graders sang and played "Bow Wow Wow," I showed them "I let her go-go" and had them figure out how it was similar. (If I remember correctly, I learned this connection from my good friend Andrew Ellingsen, who is an AMAZING presenter if you ever get a chance to see him!) Here is a video of "I let her go-go"....the kids loved it, and I love connecting the two songs and discussing the similarities!

What were you favorite activities this week? Feel free to comment below, and make sure you read the ideas of others by clicking below! Happy teaching!

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